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Ted’s Tip No. 206

When you make your next caprese salad, swap out the basil for mint. Just a fun, easy change that adds a bit of minty sweetness to the mix.



 

 

Shrimp, English Peas & Mint Risotto

The rock shrimp are what caught my eye, getting my mind spinning on what risotto to make out on the island the other eve. I knew I wanted to make risotto but waited to get to the grocery store for inspiration. They also had some biggy big shrimp that looked swell so I got a few of those to roast up to add to the top of the dish. English peas in the organic section in the shell made me happy as all get out and our pot of mint from last year was already overflowing. Done! I was off and running.

I wrote about risotto in my book. My idea for all of us non-professional home cooks is to master a few handful of things, then we can mix up ingredients to make tons & tons of tasty things. Risotto falls into that category. Get the basics down and you can make a zillion versions of it. Roast the big shrimp in the oven to add to the top at the end. I also roasted the rock shrimp for just a few minutes in the oven on a sheet pan. They will continue to cook when you add them to the hot risotto towards the end. The same is true for the bag of frozen peas. They will cook from the heat of the rice. The English peas I added raw to the top of the dish at the very end for a little crunch. They are little nature’s candy. Lastly I tore bits of mint and scattered it about the whole thing at the end. Here is my go-to recipe below.

Heat up the 8 cups of stock to not quite a boil, then turn down the heat a bit, but the stock should remain hot thru the entire risotto cooking process. Next, and here is where I like to use a good sized Le Creuset pot for cooking the risotto in, add a liberal dose of butter and cook a diced onion and shallot till they are not quite brown. Then add a good amount of olive oil to that, along with 2 cups of Arborio rice. Coat the rice with the butter and oil mixture, and sauté for a minute or two to cook through, but don’t brown the rice. All of the above is done over medium heat, but stove tops vary greatly, so adjust accordingly.

Now the liquids begin. Add one cup of white wine to the mixture. I like to use a white that we will be serving with the meal. Stir rice till the wine is absorbed. The depth of flavor the wine adds to the finished product is really noticeable.

Now the waiting hot stock takes center stage. Add one cup of stock to the mixture, stirring till the stock is fully absorbed. What holds many folks back about making risotto is there is a good amount of stirring involved. A constant stir is not necessary, but pretty close. This is where the white wine you opened comes in quite nicely. Sipping a little white wine during the risotto making process is a personal favorite–it is my break from stirring. Continue adding the hot stock one cup at a time, and the rice will become creamier as you go, as it releases the natural starches. Add the 7th cup of stock. Add the almost cooked through rock shrimp to the mixture. At this point, you will be about 20 to 25 minutes into the rice cooking process. You are almost there.

Now add the bag of peas. It does not need to be completely unfrozen as the peas will defrost the moment they hit the hot rice. Stir. Add a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Stir. Turn off the heat. Add another cup of stock. Stir. Add a dusting of salt & fresh ground black pepper. Stir. Put on the lid. Let sit for 5 minutes, have another sip of your white wine, as we are almost done. Once that 5 minutes has passed, give it one last stir, adding a bit more stock so it is nice and creamy. In a bowl add the risotto mixture, then add the large shrimp to each bowl and finally a few sprinkles of the grated Parmesan along with the English peas and a scattering of the fresh mint. A bit of work, but that will all fade away when you have your first bite. Happy Spring!



 

 

Ted’s Tip No. 199

Be it a big garden full, pots of, or a windowsill brimming, living with herbs can be a very special thing. Not only are they lovely to gaze upon, but also ever so fab to snip and use in your cooking to add a healthy hit of flavor.



 

 

Scented Geraniums, An Orchid & Mint

Flower Friday brings a dining table tableau. TPS cut back all our geraniums and herbs out on the island this week-end, they then made the ferry crossing into town. The apartment dotted with them all over the place, but the big clear compote just had to get the lion’s share of the scented geraniums. I wish the screen were a scratch & sniff. Can’t begin to tell you how deliriously happy that overflowing vessel makes me. Adding to that a bundle of mint and a grocery store orchid. Have a lovely, lovely week-end all!



 

 

Mini Caprese with Mint

We had guests last eve for dinner out on the island, plus we worked in the city for the day. Which meant it was a quick turnaround to getting the meal prepared after the ferry crossing and all. TPS whipped up a tasty & quick salmon and I assembled a Caprese. The twist is that I used mint (we have a big pot of it that is loving this warm weather and has gone crazy) instead of basil. It adds a sweetness to the dish, chopped up quite fine with a few larger leaves strewn about. Plus I used the small rounds of mozzarella, cutting them in half and the smallest cherry tomatoes we could find, cutting them in half too. A big glug of our favorite extra virgin olive oil and a healthy dusting of French sea salt. Done. An all-around ‘mini’ Caprese on a sunny, sunny August evening with friends.



 

 

Garden Clippings 

Flower Friday is not so much about a certain type of flower or bloom, but rather, about herbs & leaves and all that good stuff.  Sometimes a little hit of green is all you need to spiff up a space.  Above & below, a little shelf at the Home store with clippings from plantings on the island brought to the shop for bit of visual enjoyment.  The shapes creating a visual whole from many individual stems.  Often, the leaves are just as beautiful as the blooms.  

Yesterday morning I wrote that I felt a part of my soul was French.  And then another senseless tragedy happens from what was to be a joyous day.  My heart aches once again for my/our beloved France.  I am beginning to run out of words to describe the sorrow we all feel from so many of these horrible actions.  But I will go on posting of beauty and of love.  For we must all revel in joy.  They can not, and must not, take that away from us.  



 

 

Fresh Peas & Mint with Ricotta Crostini

20150601-090449.jpg The sugar snap peas just looked so fresh at the Market on Saturday, you could just tell how much love & care the woman selling the peas had put into growing them. They would be the start of something to have with rosé when our guests arrived on Sunday. Our herb pot is just going crazy with mint, so that would be the herb. Now we are rolling. Here is such a simple, simple app to try when you can get your hands on fresh peas.

Blanch the naked peas in a pot of boiling water for a minute. Then take them out and put in a bowl with ice and water to shock them to stop the cooking process. Then take them out of the cold bath and put in a colander to get them nice and dry. This really is a one bowl treat. Add the peas, chop a few leaves of mint quite finely, add a small splash of extra virgin olive oil, a big dollop of ricotta cheese along with a pinch of salt and pepper. With a fork, mash all together, being sure to not mash all the peas as you are mixing it together. I like about half of the peas pretty whole, so you really see them when you are eating them. Plus I like the variety of consistency of the peas. Once all mixed, set aside. Then slice up a baguette, put pieces on a baking sheet, brush on a bit of EVOO on each piece and bake in a 350 degree oven until just slightly browned. Take those out, put a spoonful of the pea mixture onto each piece. Voila, done! Serve. Enjoy.

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Honeydew, Cucumbers & Mozzarella with Mint Vinaigrette

20141001-070634.jpg I had such a refreshing salad when I was in San Francisco week-end before last, I thought I would try and recreate a bit of it and put my own spin on it too. Small world, the beyond yummy place (Piccino) where I enjoyed this tasty concoction is in the Dog Patch neighborhood. It is owned by one of Heather’s (from WK) best friends from college. I was taken there without the host knowing this. There it was with a mixture of melons and the vinaigrette was every so light and perfect for the dish, with the mint mixed about. Here is my quick version. This salad can be made throughout the year, and I look forward to making it on a cold day when we want to think of sunshine. This is one seriously refreshing dish.

The vinaigrette was first up, as I really wanted the oils in the torn up mint leaves to have time to release into the dressing. Zest a lemon into a bowl. Then get the juice out of that one lemon into that same bowl. Add a splash of champagne vinegar too. Then finely tear up a few mint leaves and mix about. Add a pinch of salt. Then add a bunch of fresh cracked pepper. Then add some more. You want lots of pepper in this. Slowly add extra virgin olive oil to all. Let the whole thing sit a bit after you have whisked it. This is when I prepare the salad.

The honeydew was super ripe, so I just stayed with that and did not use the cantaloupe. Either or both are fine. Truly, whatever melons you like. Cut that up into large bite sized pieces. Cut up cucumber to about the same sized pieces, taking out the seeds. I was lucky and found lemon cucumbers which my buddy Max in the Market continues to carry and I buy them every chance I can. I also mixed in a regular cucumber too. Then cut up fresh mozzarella to pieces the same size. Assemble all on a platter. Then drizzle with that sublime minty vinaigrette. You will be pleasantly surprised by the flavor combinations. Enjoy.

A happy start of October to all! Where did September go?



 

 

Marvelous Mint

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On my stroll thru the Market yesterday morning before opening the shop, I came across these incredible bundles of mint. I love using herbs in pitchers and old canning jars in place of flowers every once in awhile. Depending on the herb, they can last forever, and are a terrific value. Each of these bunches were 2 bucks! The smell is amazing, they look spectacular, and you can snip off a few leaves to add to your next salad.

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